Putin Urges Cooperation

With U.S. to Steady Iraq

SVETLOGORSK, Russia -- President Vladimir Putin of Russia called on other countries Sunday to work with the United States to bring stability to Iraq, saying after meeting with French and German leaders that past disputes over the U.S.-led war should not prevent future cooperation.

Like France and Germany, Russia sharply opposed the invasion of Iraq and has expressed concerns about continuing violence and the increased attacks that have been traced largely to Sunni Arab insurgents.

EUROPE

* TIRANA, Albania -- Albanians turned out in large numbers for an election watched closely by the West for evidence of the democratic maturity the country must show before being included in the European Union and NATO.

THE AMERICAS

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- Cooperation between Venezuela and the United States to fight terrorism and drug-trafficking has run into problems and could be improved, the U.S. ambassador to Caracas said.

William Brownfield said "complicated problems" had emerged in the relationship between Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, and its biggest energy client, the United States.

* PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- A 14-year-old American girl was stabbed and killed in a quiet seaside village on the island of Tobago, police said. Kitty Nichole Pepe was killed late Friday night in the apartment she had been sharing with her mother.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* IPSALA BORDER CROSSING, Turkey -- The Turkish and Greek prime ministers met on a bridge over the river that divides their countries to launch a joint construction project to connect rich natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea area and Central Asia to energy-hungry markets in Europe.

* AMMAN, Jordan -- A military court upheld the conviction of eight Jordanians for possessing explosives, and government officials said a man considered the spiritual mentor of terror mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi was freed from jail earlier in the week.

ASIA

* BEIJING -- A gas explosion at an illegal coal mine in central China killed 19 workers, the official New China News Agency said.

* KOBE, Japan -- The World Health Organization defended its target of getting 3 million people in poor countries on AIDS treatment by the end of 2005 as the only way to make substantial progress, even though the goal could be missed.

AFRICA

* KINSHASA, Congo -- Several hundred Congolese soldiers went on a rampage in the relatively stable west of the country, beating up civilians and looting homes after finding a colleague hacked to death, officials said.

-- From News Services